Big House, U.S.A.


1h 22m 1955
Big House, U.S.A.

Brief Synopsis

Convicts escape prison to uncover hidden loot.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Action
Crime
Release Date
Mar 1955
Premiere Information
World premiere in Detroit, MI: 3 Mar 1955; New York opening: 11 Mar 1955
Production Company
Bel-Air Productions, Inc.; Camden Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Canon City, Colorado, United States; Isla San Pedro Mártir--Cascabel Island Prison,Mexico; Isla San Pedro Mårtir--Cascabel Island Prison,Mexico; Malibu Beach, California, United States; McNeil Island Federal Penitentiary, Washington, United States; Royal Gorge National Park, Colorado, United States; Royal Gorge National Park, Colorado, United States; Salt Lake City, Utah, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 22m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.75 : 1

Synopsis

At a summer camp in Colorado's Royal Gorge National Park, young Danny Lambert suffers a severe asthma attack after running in a race. Terrified by nurse Emily Evans' attempt to give him an injection, Danny runs away and is found the next day by a passing stranger. The man, Jerry Barker, claims that he heard about Danny's disappearance on the radio and takes him to an abandoned fire lookout tower, which he says will be a safe place for the still-ailing boy to wait while he goes for help. Meanwhile, at the park's headquarters, Chief Ranger Will Erickson attempts to calm Danny's hysterical father, wealthy businessman Robertson Lambert. Lambert visits the park's restaurant and there receives a call from Barker, who has already left a note for him that Danny has been kidnapped but will be released for a $200,000 ransom. Lambert agrees to Barker's terms and promises not to tell the authorities, and later, finds Danny's jacket in his car, along with instructions about dropping off the ransom money the following morning. When Barker returns to the lookout tower, he discovers that Danny had wandered outside, and the decrepit railing gave way, causing Danny to fall to his death. Barker cold-bloodedly tosses Danny's body into the gorge, and the next day, Lambert, as instructed, gives the money to a passing, uninvolved motorcyclist, who leaves it at the pre-arranged spot. That afternoon, Lambert, frantic that Danny has not been returned, tells Erickson about the kidnapping, and the ranger calls the FBI. Special Agent James Madden is sent to investigate, while the rangers continue to interrogate tourists leaving the park. When an unregistered pistol is found in a truck belonging to a man named Hanson, the man is brought in for questioning, and his story that he was fishing at a particular lake heightens Erickson's suspicion because there are no fish in that lake. After a small amount of the ransom money is found in the truck, the FBI in Washington discovers that the man is actually Barker, a wanted extortionist. Despite Madden's certainty that Barker kidnapped and killed Danny, Barker claims that he merely found the lost boy and took advantage of the situation by demanding money from Lambert. Without either Danny's body or the rest of the ransom money as proof, Barker is convicted only of extortion, and is sentenced to one to five years at Cascabel Island Prison in the Gulf of California. Knowing that he will be released in a few months for good behavior, Barker had pled guilty, and in the prison, avoids contact with other prisoners so coldly that he is dubbed "The Iceman." Determined to "break" him, the warden assigns Barker to share a cell with four hardened criminals: bank robber Rollo Lamar; mob contract killer Machinegun Mason; narcotic smuggler Alamo Smith and thrill killer Benny Kelly. The other men despise Barker for his supposed involvement in the death of a child, until one day, Barker inadvertently witnesses his cellmates preparing an escape route through the prison's steam tunnels yet does not report them to the warden. Lamar then orders his cohorts to be less hostile to Barker and, hoping to retrieve the hidden ransom, decides to include the Iceman in their escape. Meanwhile, Madden continues to investigate the case and discovers that not only was Emily aware of Danny's phobia about needles, she came into contact with Barker three years earlier when he attempted to blackmail the doctor for whom she was working. Under interrogation, Emily breaks down and admits her part in the kidnapping, although she swears that Barker had promised not to hurt Danny. Finally having proof of Barker's crime, Madden arranges for him to be released into FBI custody to stand trial for kidnapping. Before Barker can be released, however, he is himself kidnapped by Lamar and his gang when they make their escape attempt. The gang swims to a waiting boat, and once there, Lamar orders a horrified Mason to kill Benny, then clothe him in Barker's prison uniform, and burn his face and hands in the hope that he will be identified as Barker. Lamar intends to mislead the authorities into believing that Barker was killed during the break, so that they can go to the national park without being followed. Upon learning what Lamar has done, Alamo attacks him, but Lamar shoots and kills him. Benny's body is soon discovered, and although he is accurately identified, Madden guesses Lamar's strategy and issues a news report that Barker is dead. Realizing that he has no choice but to share the money, Barker accompanies Lamar and Kelly to the park, but when they encounter a passing ranger, Barker repeats his earlier, false story about fishing, thereby deliberately alerting Erickson and Madden to his presence. The rangers and FBI men follow the prisoners, and near the gorge where he disposed of Danny's body, Barker unburies the ransom money. Lamar knocks him unconscious and is about to toss him into the gorge when the rangers order him to surrender. During the ensuing shootout, Mason is killed, and Lamar, after running out of ammunition, begs for his life to be spared. With the case solved, Madden reports that Barker was sent to the gas chamber for felony kidnapping, and Lamar was sentenced to death for killing Alamo. For her part in the crime, Emily was sentenced to twenty years to life, and although the ransom money was recovered, Danny's body was never found.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Action
Crime
Release Date
Mar 1955
Premiere Information
World premiere in Detroit, MI: 3 Mar 1955; New York opening: 11 Mar 1955
Production Company
Bel-Air Productions, Inc.; Camden Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Canon City, Colorado, United States; Isla San Pedro Mártir--Cascabel Island Prison,Mexico; Isla San Pedro Mårtir--Cascabel Island Prison,Mexico; Malibu Beach, California, United States; McNeil Island Federal Penitentiary, Washington, United States; Royal Gorge National Park, Colorado, United States; Royal Gorge National Park, Colorado, United States; Salt Lake City, Utah, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 22m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.75 : 1

Articles

Big House, USA - Big House, U.S.A.


Does the name Howard W. Koch ring a bell? No, he's no relation to Howard Koch, the screenwriter of Casablanca (1942) fame. But he IS the director of such drive-in faves as Untamed Youth (1957), Bop Girl Goes Calypso (1957), and Frankenstein - 1970 (1958). He was also the executive producer on The Manchurian Candidate (1962) and such Frank Sinatra flicks as Robin and the 7 Hoods(1964) and None But the Brave (1965). What? Still drawing a blank? Well, sooner or later, even an exploitation specialist like Howard W. Koch is capable of turning out a gem and his diamond in the rough is Big House, U.S.A. (1955), a gritty little crime thriller that deserves some kind of award just for the casting alone. Here is the ultimate dream cast of B-movie bad guys - Broderick Crawford, Ralph Meeker, Charles Bronson, Lon Chaney, Jr., and William Talman (Raymond Burr's rival attorney on TV's Perry Mason series). A more despicable, unrepentant lot you will not find in another film from the same period. These are villains an audience really loves to hate and they all truly deserve the terrible fates that await them. In fact, it's a mystery how the censors allowed some of the more brutal and sadistic sequences to pass without cuts.

There are actually two plots at work in Big House, U.S.A.. The first one involves the kidnapping of a young boy who is taken deep into Colorado's Royal George Park where he is held for ransom. Without giving away any details, we'll just say that this part of the story builds to a shocking conclusion and then segues into the second plot which involves a prison break from the Casabel Island Prison.

Broderick Crawford steals the movie with his rabid, over-the-top performance as Rollo Lamar, the ringleader of the escaped convicts. In one scene, he takes a blowtorch to a fellow con he's just murdered, burning away his face and fingerprints so authorities won't be able to identify the body. There are other grisly scenes in the movie, including one where a prisoner is scalded to death in a boiler, but the real highpoints are when Crawford double-crosses his cohorts, in particular, Lon Chaney, Jr. The two actors had previously tangled in North to the Klondike (1942) in which Chaney was defeated in a climactic fistfight and he doesn't fare much better in Big House, U.S.A. unless you count being filled with hot lead and dumped into the ocean an improvement. Off camera, Chaney and Crawford got along famously though Chaney would joke, 'Wait'll I get him in the next picture. I'll even things up.'

It was no secret that both Crawford and Chaney had a weakness for alcohol and director Howard W. Koch probably had some real concerns going into production on Big House, U.S.A.. In the biography, Lon Chaney Jr.: Horror Film Star by Don G. Smith, the director recalled that "Broderick Crawford gave us some problems during the making of the film because he drank a lot, vodka. But Lon's drinking never showed because he was good at covering that up. Some actors drink because it gives them courage.' All we've got to say is you might need a good stiff drink too after watching Crawford and company raise hell in Big House, U.S.A., probably the most mean-spirited kidnapping caper/prison break thriller ever made and that's a compliment.

Producer: Aubrey Schenck
Director: Howard W. Koch
Screenplay: George W. George (story), John C. Higgins, George F. Slavin (story)
Production Design: Charles D. Hall
Cinematography: Gordon Avil
Film Editing: John F. Schreyer
Original Music: Paul Dunlap
Principal Cast: Broderick Crawford (Rollo Lamar), Ralph Meeker (Jerry Barker), Reed Hadley (James Madden), William Talman (William 'Machine Gun' Mason), Lon Chaney Jr. (Leonard M. 'Alamo' Smith), Felicia Farr (Emily Evans), Charles Bronson (Benny Kelly).
BW-83m.

by Jeff Stafford
Big House, Usa  - Big House, U.s.a.

Big House, USA - Big House, U.S.A.

Does the name Howard W. Koch ring a bell? No, he's no relation to Howard Koch, the screenwriter of Casablanca (1942) fame. But he IS the director of such drive-in faves as Untamed Youth (1957), Bop Girl Goes Calypso (1957), and Frankenstein - 1970 (1958). He was also the executive producer on The Manchurian Candidate (1962) and such Frank Sinatra flicks as Robin and the 7 Hoods(1964) and None But the Brave (1965). What? Still drawing a blank? Well, sooner or later, even an exploitation specialist like Howard W. Koch is capable of turning out a gem and his diamond in the rough is Big House, U.S.A. (1955), a gritty little crime thriller that deserves some kind of award just for the casting alone. Here is the ultimate dream cast of B-movie bad guys - Broderick Crawford, Ralph Meeker, Charles Bronson, Lon Chaney, Jr., and William Talman (Raymond Burr's rival attorney on TV's Perry Mason series). A more despicable, unrepentant lot you will not find in another film from the same period. These are villains an audience really loves to hate and they all truly deserve the terrible fates that await them. In fact, it's a mystery how the censors allowed some of the more brutal and sadistic sequences to pass without cuts. There are actually two plots at work in Big House, U.S.A.. The first one involves the kidnapping of a young boy who is taken deep into Colorado's Royal George Park where he is held for ransom. Without giving away any details, we'll just say that this part of the story builds to a shocking conclusion and then segues into the second plot which involves a prison break from the Casabel Island Prison. Broderick Crawford steals the movie with his rabid, over-the-top performance as Rollo Lamar, the ringleader of the escaped convicts. In one scene, he takes a blowtorch to a fellow con he's just murdered, burning away his face and fingerprints so authorities won't be able to identify the body. There are other grisly scenes in the movie, including one where a prisoner is scalded to death in a boiler, but the real highpoints are when Crawford double-crosses his cohorts, in particular, Lon Chaney, Jr. The two actors had previously tangled in North to the Klondike (1942) in which Chaney was defeated in a climactic fistfight and he doesn't fare much better in Big House, U.S.A. unless you count being filled with hot lead and dumped into the ocean an improvement. Off camera, Chaney and Crawford got along famously though Chaney would joke, 'Wait'll I get him in the next picture. I'll even things up.' It was no secret that both Crawford and Chaney had a weakness for alcohol and director Howard W. Koch probably had some real concerns going into production on Big House, U.S.A.. In the biography, Lon Chaney Jr.: Horror Film Star by Don G. Smith, the director recalled that "Broderick Crawford gave us some problems during the making of the film because he drank a lot, vodka. But Lon's drinking never showed because he was good at covering that up. Some actors drink because it gives them courage.' All we've got to say is you might need a good stiff drink too after watching Crawford and company raise hell in Big House, U.S.A., probably the most mean-spirited kidnapping caper/prison break thriller ever made and that's a compliment. Producer: Aubrey Schenck Director: Howard W. Koch Screenplay: George W. George (story), John C. Higgins, George F. Slavin (story) Production Design: Charles D. Hall Cinematography: Gordon Avil Film Editing: John F. Schreyer Original Music: Paul Dunlap Principal Cast: Broderick Crawford (Rollo Lamar), Ralph Meeker (Jerry Barker), Reed Hadley (James Madden), William Talman (William 'Machine Gun' Mason), Lon Chaney Jr. (Leonard M. 'Alamo' Smith), Felicia Farr (Emily Evans), Charles Bronson (Benny Kelly). BW-83m. by Jeff Stafford

TCM Remembers Charles Bronson - Sept. 13th - TCM Remembers Charles Bronson this Saturday, Sept. 13th 2003.


Turner Classic Movies will honor the passing of Hollywood action star Charles Bronson on Saturday, Sept. 13, with a four-film tribute.

After years of playing supporting roles in numerous Western, action and war films, including THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960, 8 p.m.) and THE DIRTY DOZEN (1967, 1:15 a.m.), Bronson finally achieved worldwide stardom as a leading man during the late 1960s and early 1970s. TCM's tribute will also include THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963, 10:15 p.m.), Bronson's second teaming with Steve McQueen and James Coburn, and will conclude with FROM NOON TILL THREE (1976, 4 a.m.), co-starring Jill Ireland.

TCM will alter it's prime-time schedule this Saturday, Sept. 13th. The following changes will take place:

8:00 PM - The Magnificent Seven (1960)
10:15 PM - The Great Escape (1963)
1:15 AM - The Dirty Dozen (1967)
4:00 AM - From Noon Till Three (1976)

Charles Bronson, 1921-2003

Charles Bronson, the tough, stony-faced actor who was one of the most recognizable action heroes in cinema, died on August 30 in Los Angeles from complications from pneumonia. He was 81.

He was born Charles Buchinsky on November 3, 1921 in Ehrenfeld, Pennsylvania, one of fifteen children born to Lithuanian immigrant parents. Although he was the only child to have graduated high school, he worked in the coalmines to support his family until he joined the army to serve as a tail gunner during World War II. He used his money from the G.I. Bill to study art in Philadelphia, but while working as a set designer for a Philadelphia theater troupe, he landed a few small roles in some productions and immediately found acting to be the craft for him.

Bronson took his new career turn seriously, moved to California, and enrolled for acting classes at The Pasadena Playhouse. An instructor there recommended him to director Henry Hathaway for a movie role and the result was his debut in Hathaway's You're in the Navy Now (1951). He secured more bit parts in films like John Sturges' drama The People Against O'Hara (1951), and Joseph Newman's Bloodhounds of Broadway (1952). More substantial roles came in George Cukor's Pat and Mike (1952, where he is beaten up by Katharine Hepburn!); Andre de Toth's classic 3-D thriller House of Wax (1953, as Vincent Price's mute assistant, Igor); and De Toth's fine low-budget noir Crime Wave (1954).

Despite his formidable presence, his leads were confined to a string of B pictures like Gene Fowler's Gang War; and Roger Corman's tight Machine Gun Kelly (both 1958). Following his own television series, Man With a Camera (1958-60), Bronson had his first taste of film stardom when director Sturges casted him as Bernardo, one of the The Magnificent Seven (1960). Bronson displayed a powerful charisma, comfortably holding his own in a high-powered cast that included Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen. A few more solid roles followed in Sturges' The Great Escape (1963), and Robert Aldrich's classic war picture The Dirty Dozen (1967), before Bronson made the decision to follow the European trail of other American actors like Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef. It was there that his hard, taciturn screen personae exploded in full force. In 1968 alone, he had four hit films: Henri Verneuil's Guns for San Sebastian, Buzz Kulik's Villa Rides, Jean Herman's Adieu l'ami which was a smash in France; and the classic Sergio Leone spaghetti Western Once Upon a Time in the West.

These films established Bronson as a huge box-office draw in Europe, and with some more stylish hits like Rene Clement's Rider on the Rain (1969), and Terence Young's Cold Sweat (1971) he soon became one of the most popular film stars in the world. It wasn't easy for Bronson to translate that success back in his homeland. In fact, his first few films on his return stateside: Michael Winners' Chato's Land, and The Mechanic (both 1972), and Richard Fleischer's Mr. Majestyk (1973), were surprisingly routine pictures. It wasn't until he collaborated with Winner again for the controversial Death Wish (1974), an urban revenge thriller about an architect who turns vigilante when his wife and daughter are raped, did he notch his first stateside hit. The next few years would be a fruitful period for Bronson as he rode on a wave of fine films and commercial success: a depression era streetfighter in Walter Hill's terrific, if underrated Hard Times (1975); Frank Gilroy's charming offbeat black comedy From Noon Till Three (1976, the best of many teamings with his second wife, Jill Ireland); Tom Gries tense Breakheart Pass; and Don Siegel's cold-war thriller Telefon (1977).

Sadly, Bronson could not keep up the momentum of good movies, and by the '80s he was starring in a string of forgettable films like Ten to Midnight (1983), The Evil That Men Do (1984), and Murphy's Law (1986, all directed by J. Lee Thompson). A notable exception to all that tripe was John Mackenzie's fine telefilm Act of Vengeance (1986), where he earned critical acclaim in the role of United Mine Workers official Jack Yablonski. Although he more or less fell into semi-retirement in the '90s, his performances in Sean Penn's The Indian Runner (1991); and the title role of Michael Anderson's The Sea Wolf (1993) proved to many that Bronson had the makings of a fine character actor. He was married to actress Jill Ireland from 1968 until her death from breast cancer in 1990. He is survived by his third wife Kim Weeks, six children, and two grandchildren.

by Michael T. Toole

TCM Remembers Charles Bronson - Sept. 13th - TCM Remembers Charles Bronson this Saturday, Sept. 13th 2003.

Turner Classic Movies will honor the passing of Hollywood action star Charles Bronson on Saturday, Sept. 13, with a four-film tribute. After years of playing supporting roles in numerous Western, action and war films, including THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960, 8 p.m.) and THE DIRTY DOZEN (1967, 1:15 a.m.), Bronson finally achieved worldwide stardom as a leading man during the late 1960s and early 1970s. TCM's tribute will also include THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963, 10:15 p.m.), Bronson's second teaming with Steve McQueen and James Coburn, and will conclude with FROM NOON TILL THREE (1976, 4 a.m.), co-starring Jill Ireland. TCM will alter it's prime-time schedule this Saturday, Sept. 13th. The following changes will take place: 8:00 PM - The Magnificent Seven (1960) 10:15 PM - The Great Escape (1963) 1:15 AM - The Dirty Dozen (1967) 4:00 AM - From Noon Till Three (1976) Charles Bronson, 1921-2003 Charles Bronson, the tough, stony-faced actor who was one of the most recognizable action heroes in cinema, died on August 30 in Los Angeles from complications from pneumonia. He was 81. He was born Charles Buchinsky on November 3, 1921 in Ehrenfeld, Pennsylvania, one of fifteen children born to Lithuanian immigrant parents. Although he was the only child to have graduated high school, he worked in the coalmines to support his family until he joined the army to serve as a tail gunner during World War II. He used his money from the G.I. Bill to study art in Philadelphia, but while working as a set designer for a Philadelphia theater troupe, he landed a few small roles in some productions and immediately found acting to be the craft for him. Bronson took his new career turn seriously, moved to California, and enrolled for acting classes at The Pasadena Playhouse. An instructor there recommended him to director Henry Hathaway for a movie role and the result was his debut in Hathaway's You're in the Navy Now (1951). He secured more bit parts in films like John Sturges' drama The People Against O'Hara (1951), and Joseph Newman's Bloodhounds of Broadway (1952). More substantial roles came in George Cukor's Pat and Mike (1952, where he is beaten up by Katharine Hepburn!); Andre de Toth's classic 3-D thriller House of Wax (1953, as Vincent Price's mute assistant, Igor); and De Toth's fine low-budget noir Crime Wave (1954). Despite his formidable presence, his leads were confined to a string of B pictures like Gene Fowler's Gang War; and Roger Corman's tight Machine Gun Kelly (both 1958). Following his own television series, Man With a Camera (1958-60), Bronson had his first taste of film stardom when director Sturges casted him as Bernardo, one of the The Magnificent Seven (1960). Bronson displayed a powerful charisma, comfortably holding his own in a high-powered cast that included Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen. A few more solid roles followed in Sturges' The Great Escape (1963), and Robert Aldrich's classic war picture The Dirty Dozen (1967), before Bronson made the decision to follow the European trail of other American actors like Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef. It was there that his hard, taciturn screen personae exploded in full force. In 1968 alone, he had four hit films: Henri Verneuil's Guns for San Sebastian, Buzz Kulik's Villa Rides, Jean Herman's Adieu l'ami which was a smash in France; and the classic Sergio Leone spaghetti Western Once Upon a Time in the West. These films established Bronson as a huge box-office draw in Europe, and with some more stylish hits like Rene Clement's Rider on the Rain (1969), and Terence Young's Cold Sweat (1971) he soon became one of the most popular film stars in the world. It wasn't easy for Bronson to translate that success back in his homeland. In fact, his first few films on his return stateside: Michael Winners' Chato's Land, and The Mechanic (both 1972), and Richard Fleischer's Mr. Majestyk (1973), were surprisingly routine pictures. It wasn't until he collaborated with Winner again for the controversial Death Wish (1974), an urban revenge thriller about an architect who turns vigilante when his wife and daughter are raped, did he notch his first stateside hit. The next few years would be a fruitful period for Bronson as he rode on a wave of fine films and commercial success: a depression era streetfighter in Walter Hill's terrific, if underrated Hard Times (1975); Frank Gilroy's charming offbeat black comedy From Noon Till Three (1976, the best of many teamings with his second wife, Jill Ireland); Tom Gries tense Breakheart Pass; and Don Siegel's cold-war thriller Telefon (1977). Sadly, Bronson could not keep up the momentum of good movies, and by the '80s he was starring in a string of forgettable films like Ten to Midnight (1983), The Evil That Men Do (1984), and Murphy's Law (1986, all directed by J. Lee Thompson). A notable exception to all that tripe was John Mackenzie's fine telefilm Act of Vengeance (1986), where he earned critical acclaim in the role of United Mine Workers official Jack Yablonski. Although he more or less fell into semi-retirement in the '90s, his performances in Sean Penn's The Indian Runner (1991); and the title role of Michael Anderson's The Sea Wolf (1993) proved to many that Bronson had the makings of a fine character actor. He was married to actress Jill Ireland from 1968 until her death from breast cancer in 1990. He is survived by his third wife Kim Weeks, six children, and two grandchildren. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Any of you geniuses know what "apparently" means?
- Rollo Lamar
"Apparently?"
- Leonard M. 'Alamo' Smith
Yeah.
- Rollo Lamar
Yeah, it means that something that ain't, looks like it is.
- Benny Kelly

Trivia

Notes

At the end of the film, a written epilog reads: "The Producers wish to thank the friendly people of Canon City, Colorado and the directors and personnel of the Royal Gorge Park for their cooperation in making this picture possible." Voice-over narration by Roy Roberts, as "Chief Ranger Will Erickson," is heard intermittently during the first half of the film, after which Reed Hadley, as "James Madden," takes over as narrator. As noted in the onscreen credits, the picture was partially shot on location in Canon City and the Royal Gorge Park, CO. August 1954 Hollywood Reporter news items indicate the producers had initially considered filming at Carson City, NV, Mt. Rainier and Yosemite National Park. November 1954 Hollywood Reporter news items reported that underwater filming took place at Malibu Beach, CA, and that a second unit spent two days on "atmospheric shooting" in Salt Lake City, UT.
       The film features some exterior footage of the Cascabel Island Prison, which was on Isla San Pedro Mårtir in the Gulf of Mexico. Hollywood Reporter news items and contemporary photographs indicate that the interior prison scenes were shot at McNeil Island Federal Penitentiary in Washington, however.
       According to a March 29, 1956 Daily Variety news item, the Senate Juvenile Delinquency Sub-Committee singled out Big House, U.S.A. "as a picture having too much emphasis on violence and crime," thereby negatively influencing young viewers. In defending the film, producer Aubrey Schenck stated, "more stress should have been placed [by the committee] upon parental control over children susceptible to such films." Schenck also noted that "scaring people is popular entertainment and can be had not only in theatres but in every amusement park and public library."
       Big House, U.S.A. marked the first film of Bel-Air Productions, which was formed by Schenck and Howard Koch. Previously, their production company had been known as Schenck-Koch Productions. According to a November 1954 Hollywood Reporter news item, 100 percent of the film's funding was supplied by United Artists. Big House, U.S.A. also marked the motion picture debut of actress Felicia Farr, who was credited onscreen as Randy Farr. An October 1954 Hollywood Reporter news item includes William Boyette in the cast, but his appearance in the released picture has not been completed. Modern sources add January Merlin (Boat captain) and Bart Burns (Warden) to the cast.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Spring March 1955

Released in United States Spring March 1955